Tim McIlrath

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Tim McIlrath
Rise Against Live 10.jpg
Tim McIlrath performing as a part of Rise Against at 2006's Warped Tour
Background information
Birth name Timothy James McIlrath
Also known as James Kaspar (pseudonym in The Killing Tree)
Born (1978-11-03) November 3, 1978 (age 36)
Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S.
Origin Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Genres Melodic hardcore, punk rock, hardcore punk, post-hardcore, metalcore
Occupation(s) Musician, singer-songwriter, lyricist, composer, vocalist, guitarist, bassist,
Instruments Vocals, piano, guitar, bass
Years active 1995–present
Labels Fat Wreck Chords, Geffen, DGC, Interscope
Associated acts Rise Against, Baxter, Arma Angelus, The Killing Tree, The Honor System, Berri Txarrak, Cancer Bats, Flobots, Thursday
Notable instruments
Gibson Les Paul
Taylor 814ce

Timothy James "Tim" McIlrath (born November 3, 1978) is an American punk rock musician. He is the lead singer, rhythm guitarist, songwriter and co-founder of the American punk rock band Rise Against. McIlrath is known to support animal rights and actively promotes PETA with his band.[1] He is also straight edge.


Personal life[edit]

Tim McIlrath was born on November 3, 1978 in Indianapolis, Indiana. At a young age he read dystopian novels such as Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell and Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, which would influence his later work. As a child he was taunted for his left eye being blue and his right eye brown,[2] known as heterochromia. As a teenager, McIlrath's friends were interested in snowboarding, so he saved his money for a snowboard. But, as his interest in music grew, he instead decided to spend the money he had saved on a Gibson SG guitar.


McIlrath attended Rolling Meadows High School in Rolling Meadows, IL. This was also the set for the music video, "Make It Stop (September's Children)." In college (Northeastern Illinois University), McIlrath majored in English and Sociology. In his junior year, he met Joe Principe at a Sick of It All concert. Principe asked McIlrath to sing over a few tracks that he and Mr. Precision had recorded. It was at this time that Transistor Revolt was formed, and McIlrath left college.

Music career[edit]

Baxter (1995–1999)[edit]

Main article: Baxter (punk band)

McIlrath began his musical career in his early years; he was very active in the Chicago local alternative rock/punk scene. His first band was the post-hardcore band Baxter, formed in 1995 along with future The Lawrence Arms drummer Neil Hennessy and future Killing Tree and Holy Roman Empire bassist Geoff Reu. Their first release was a full length, self released, cassette, Troy's Bucket, which was released in 1996. Troy's Bucket was met with warm reception from the scene, and Baxter became a popular band in the Chicago underground scene.

In 1997 they released a 7" EP Lost Voices on Static Station Records. After some local touring, the band split up.

McIlrath played bass and sang backup in the first incarnation of The Honor System. He sang on their demo and on some songs on their debut album Single File. He and drummer Neil Hennesy could also be found in a brief lineup of the grindcore band Yellow Road Priest, whose members went on to form Pelican. The band broke up in 1999.

Arma Angelus (1998–1999)[edit]

Main article: Arma Angelus

McIlrath joined the band Arma Angelus, Chicago metalcore band fronted by Pete Wentz, who was to become bassist in mainstream pop punk/emo band Fall Out Boy. McIlrath played bass with the band until 1999 when he quit to form Transistor Revolt, which would eventually become Rise Against.

Rise Against (1999–present)[edit]

Main article: Rise Against

In 1999 McIlrath formed the band that would become Rise Against with former 88 Fingers Louie bassist, Joe Principe, guitarist Dan Precision (A.K.A. Mr. Precision), and drummer Toni Tintari under the name 'Transistor Revolt'. Drummer Brandon Barnes did not join until 2001; it was at the same time the band was renamed Rise Against. They officially recorded their debut album The Unraveling on Fat Wreck Chords in 2001.

In 2002 guitarist Mr. Precison left due to arguments with the band, and Todd Mohney filled his role. Later that year they released their second album Revolutions per Minute which was greeted with warm success . They toured the U.S. steadily that year, though by the end of it, Mohney left. In order to replace him, former Reach the Sky guitarist Chris Chasse joined in 2004 and they released their Geffen debut Siren Song of the Counter Culture.

With the release of the singles "Give It All", "Swing Life Away", and "Life Less Frightening", Rise Against became more popular with mainstream fans, but still kept their underground sensibility. After more touring (including a European tour and spots on the Vans Warped tour), the band went back to the studio and recorded their fourth album The Sufferer & the Witness, which included four singles ("Ready to Fall, "Prayer of the Refugee", "The Good Left Undone", and "Behind Closed Doors".)

They had ended their tour and were back in the studio in the process of making their next album, when Chris Chasse decided to leave the band in order to pursue family life.

In 2008, Rise Against recorded their fifth album Appeal to Reason with the help of guitarist Zach Blair, who is now a permanent member and has known the band for many years. Appeal to Reason was released on October 7, 2008. The band recorded it at The Blasting Room in Fort Collins, Colorado with Bill Stevenson and Jason Livermore, who produced Revolutions Per Minute and The Sufferer & the Witness.

Sziget – 2011

Rise Against's sixth album, Endgame, contains singles "Help Is on the Way", "Architects", and "Make it Stop (September's Children)" as well as "Satellite" and was released on March 15, 2011.[3]

On September 10, 2013, Rise Against released "Long Forgotten Songs" on Interscope Records. It was a compilation album consisting of unreleased b-sides and covers.[4]

On July 15, 2014, Rise against released their seventh album, "The Black Market".

The Killing Tree (1999–2006)[edit]

Main article: The Killing Tree

McIlrath has played in his metalcore side project The Killing Tree along with former Rise Against guitarist Todd Mohney and former Baxter and Holy Roman Empire bassist, Geoff Reu. During the early years of the band, all members used pseudonyms (Tim's being James Kaspar) out of concern for it. The Killing Tree has not produced any music or toured since 2004, but contributed their previously unreleased song "Dressed to Fuck" on the 2006 Thick Records compilation album Hair: Chicago Punk Cuts, which featured Emily Schambra (of Holy Roman Empire) as guest vocals on the song.[5] Schambra also contributed backing vocals on Rise Against's album The Sufferer & the Witness for the songs "The Approaching Curve", "Roadside", and the b-side "But Tonight We Dance".



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